The monkey is off the back and Rupertswood is finally Riddell District Football League premiers.

The memories of close calls and past failures were put to one side as the Sharks put in a display worthy of a premiership on Sunday.

Taking on massive underdogs Wallan, who had surprised everyone to get that deep into the finals, the Sharks were the better side on the day.

The game was all but over at half-time, with the Sharks leading by 48 points.

They would extend that in the second half, to run away with a 21.10 (136)-8.3 (51) win.

Sharks coach Nick Ash said it was a proud moment for the club.

“The club has worked really hard,” he said.

“They had that four to five years when they first got to the RDFL, they couldn’t win a final.

“They had the monkey over their heads for a period, before we got two finals wins in 2017.


Rupertswood’s Cameron McRorie tackles Shaun Stewart. Picture Shawn Smits.

PHOTO GALLERY: RDFL seniors grand final

“Going out in straight sets last year was really hard to take.

“This year we would strip it back and get back to what we do best.”

Ash, who has been part of premiership sides at Riddell, said there was the look in the eyes of the playing group even back at pre-season, that it was their time.

He said they had surrounded a bunch of talented local players with the right players and personalities to improve the side.

“I just knew with this group this year, we’d have our ups and downs and come
the business end of the year we’d be ready to go.”

Ash knows luck and a healthy squad plays a large part in a finals series. He said it was a credit to Wallan to have got so far despite missing several players with injuries.

For the Sharks, they had their strongest team on the park and it showed.

Jake Sutton returned to the side, having finished his commitments with the Calder Cannons.

“We knew it wasn’t gong to be easy,” he said.

“If we put everything out on the park today and played for two hours, we didn’t worry about the result at the end of the game.

“If we were committed and did all that, the result would look after itself.”

The Sharks set the game up in the midfield, with the extra depth playing a big key.

Ash said it’s a luxury to have the likes of Brent Swallow, Matty Knight sand Billy Cannolo in the midfield rotation.

“Our work rate and effort was fantastic.”

While the game was in their control at half-time, Ash still wasn’t relaxed.

It wasn’t until the final siren that Ash really relaxed.

Nick Grigg kicked seven goals and was named best on ground, winning the Doug McIntyre Medal.


Rupertswood celebrates. Picture Shawn Smits.

Brent Swallow was awarded the AFL Victoria Country Medal.

Ash said he couldn’t single any performances out, with everyone playing their role.

The premiership came almost 10 years to the day since their last senior premiership in the VAFA.

Ash was quick to pay tribute to former coach Kevin Fitzgerald, along with the other senior coaches at the club and junior coaches.

He said Fitzgerald, who Ash was assistant coach to for two years, set them in the direction to get where they are now.

“The whole club are good people and it’s a pleasure to coach them.”

The senior premiership was the second football flag for the Sharks on the day.

Their under-19s defeated Woodend-Hesket to continue their good record.

The reserves weren’t so lucky, losing
to Wallan.

Ash said it was a massive effort to have all three football sides in finals.

“Just having three sides training all the way through finals and people putting pressure on for spots, as a coach it’s all you can ask for.

“It was hard to pick a side, but we put 22 on the park that got the job done.

“It was a shame that the reserves couldn’t get the job done.”


Rupertswood’s Brett Chambers marks. Picture Shawn Smits.